Disabled Motoring UK are delighted to announce the good-news story of 2011 - the Alps Challenge.
From 4th-16th June 2011, the charity Disabled Motoring UK who represent disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge holders will recreate a journey, across the Swiss Alps in a Argson mobility trike. The journey was first made by one of our founders, on the same trike, back in 1947.
When polio left O.A Denley paralyzed from the waist down and forced the man affectionately known as 'Denny' to leave the Royal Navy, it appeared that his dream of visiting Switzerland would forever remain unfulfilled. But in 1947, Denny decided complete paralysis below the waist wouldn't be enough to deter him and set off to conquer the Alps in his Argson mobility trike. 1,520 miles and three climbs totaling 18,676ft, a height just shy of that of Mt Kilimanjaro, later, the dream had been realized and the boundaries of what was and wasn't possible for people with disabilities had been re-defined forever.
Sadly Denny, who went on to help found the Disabled Drivers' Association, which would later become Disabled Motoring UK, died in 2010 but his legacy lives on. A team of soldiers injured in combat and notable disability campaigners including paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson and children's television presenter and England wheelchair basketball star Ade Adepitan are going to re-create the epic journey of 1947.
The purpose of the trip is threefold. As a lasting tribute to Denny, and to recognize the courage and fortitude he demonstrated in undertaking the original trip and throughout his life. To launch our new name, Disabled Motoring UK to the press, public and all interested parties. Finally to lobby Parliament on the reform of Disability Living Allowance and the effect of increasing fuel prices.
Starting in London, the trike will head down to Newhaven before crossing the Channel to Dieppe in Northern France. Following the route Denny took all those years ago, the convoy will head south to Paris, where Denny famously picnicked under the Eiffel Tower, and on to Basel in Switzerland via Provins and Chaumont. Once in Switzerland, Denny and his trike took in three major climbs in the Alps and then dropped down into the Rhone Valley, continuing through to Geneva, before heading back north to London and a reception with MPs at the Houses of Parliament. On route the team hope to meet up with their French and Swiss counterparts, as well as members of the respective governments tasked with disability rights, to share best practice. The team will also take in the Tour de Suisse.
Corporal George Bascope and Craftsman Ben Haywood from the Royal Light Dragoons have set about restoring Denny's original Argson trike to its former glory, in preparation for a return trip.
Disabled Motoring UK's Senior Information Officer Jim Rawlings said: "The Argson trike is a piece of motoring history, as well as symbolizing the extraordinary achievements of our founder and other people with disabilities. Denny's trip across the Alps showed people all over the world that anything was possible."
Now Disabled Motoring UK hope the same journey can inspire other people with disabilities to live their life to the full, whatever their circumstances.